New targets set in the fight against climate change

The Welsh Government has legally formalised a new goal of zero man-made greenhouse emissions by 2050.

The new targets bring Wales in line with the rest of the United Kingdom with the hope of reaching the joint commitment to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees, as per the 2015 Paris Agreement.

This decision is in response to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow later this year, but also a report released in December 2020 by the Committee on Climate Change which found that Wales was behind the rest of the UK and had not reached the previous 80% target.

The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs Lesley Griffiths said:  “We were the first country in the world to declare a climate emergency, but now we will use the new science to make our long-held ambition of a Net Zero Wales, a reality. While we have set our intention to achieve this by 2050 in law today, we will continue to do all we can to get there sooner.”

This has been welcomed by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC).

“The fact that Welsh Government has made this legislative step is a really positive sign and we hope they press on and turn that into real policy action,” said a spokesperson.

“They have stated their ambition now and it’s a case of delivery and we will continue to work with them and give them advice on what we think is needed.”

This view has not been shared by all though, with Anthony Slaughter of the Green Party in Wales saying: We welcome the ambition, but they have already to failed to meet previous targets. We are going to need to see some strong concrete proposals and actions. It’s not even the right target, the science demands net zero by 2030.”

The plan which has been put forward talks about a “Team Wales” approach looking for collectivity from the government, businesses and people themselves in reducing emissions in Wales.  

Mr Slaughter said: “It cannot be left to individuals. Individuals’ behaviour matters but we need a system change. The Government needs to take responsibility for all of this and we have been talking about the Green New Deal for such a long time. The money needs to be made available and we need to be retrofitting all the houses in Wales and critically, we need to stop building houses that are not future proof.”

 “The Government needs to take the public along with them. There is growing public awareness. People want to do the right thing. The role of government is to make doing the right thing the easy thing.”